A modest proposal

Writing in Haaretz, Yair Sheleg makes a point relating to the discussion here on international law– namely, how can anyone respect any version of international law interpreted by those lacking a commitment to genuine and impartial justice?

I’ve mentioned the recent hearings of the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the “legality” of Israel’s West Bank separation fence. Sheleg points out that the judges at those hearings included representatives of such paragons of judicial fairness as China and Egypt. Can anyone be surprised the Israeli government viewed the hearings as a farce and chose not to argue its case? Can anyone imagine the Egyptian judge giving full and careful consideration to that case?

Sheleg cites the disgraceful World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001, where Israel– not for the first time– became a punching bag for countries that violate human rights on a far grander scale.

The UN Human Rights Commission has been chaired by Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya. The Security Council provides permanent seats to undemocratic China and less-than-democratic Russia. Rotating seats on the council are routinely assigned to countries like Syria, while Israel has never served. And so on.

Sheleg says Israel should “lead a drive to demand that only democratic nations with a certain threshold in terms of human rights protection be members of the international community’s human rights institutions.”

Although the idea doesn’t stand much of a chance, just raising it can only help shine the spotlight in places human rights violators don’t want it shone. In other words it’s one of those useful projects that’s sure to outrage all the right people.